Actors Who Despised Their Iconic Costumes
Many actors and actresses will do whatever it takes to get into character, including hopping into some fairly uncomfortable, irritating and maddening costumes. While movie magic works hard to make you believe stars are always comfortable in their onscreen outfits, that simply isn’t the case.
Some famous stars absolutely despised their clunky, uncomfortable, irritating and/or disgusting costumes, despite looking cool as a cucumber the entire time. Think you can guess who they are? Let’s take a look!
Doug Jones: Amphibian Man/The Shape of Water
Guillermo Del Toro’s monster romance flick, The Shape of Water, required Doug Jones to wear a bizarre amphibian suit. Jones told NPR, “Any creature suit…hampers your eyesight, your hearing…you need help getting around. The irony of that is usually you’re playing a being that has superhuman strength, [but] you need help walking to the set.”
“My vision was very impaired, and my hearing — my ears were covered with latex foam rubber. And the gills were right next to my ears as well, and they were mechanically operated. So, I would hear [mechanical noises] in my ears as a scene is progressing, so you kind of have to blot that out.”
Jennifer Lawrence: Mystique/X-Men Films
Jennifer Lawrence’s drastic three-to-eight-hour transformation into X-Men‘s Mystique left the actress unrecognizable. With the blue body paint, she hardly looks human. In truth, she wasn’t a fan of the process. Lawrence told EW, “I love these movies…It’s just the paint…I’m like, ‘I can’t even pronounce this, and that’s going in my nose? I’m breathing that?'”
Additionally, Lawrence couldn’t sit down in the restrictive suit. As a result, she could only use the restroom standing up — using a funnel. Gross. Lawrence shared with Graham Norton, “The guys who made it were like, ‘Well, she’s a girl. She doesn’t go to the bathroom.’ So, I pee standing up out of a funnel.”
Anthony Daniels: C-3PO/Star Wars
At Fan Expo 2017, C-3PO actor Anthony Daniels shared, “It’s not easy for me being in the suit…I’m slightly separated from everybody else…I was basically locked in…of course people would just come up to me…’Gosh, you look fantastic. This is incredible. You are a perfect droid.'”
“Nobody had seen a costume like this…After a few days, I had become an object. People forgot I was in there. They accepted…that I was a robot and a machine, and you don’t have to be nice to machines. You don’t have to say, ‘Are you okay?’ When did you last say that to your microwave?”
Jim Carrey: The Grinch/How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Jim Carrey only wore his Grinch costume for a total of 92 days, and he still nearly lost his marbles during shooting. Carrey told Graham Norton, “It was like being buried alive each day. On the first day, I went back to my trailer, put my leg through the wall and told [director] Ron Howard I couldn’t do the movie.”
“So, a guy that trained CIA operatives how to endure torture was brought in. That’s how I got through it.” He also calmed himself down by listening to The Bee Gees while getting dressed. Unfortunately, Carrey’s makeup artist, Kazuhiro Tsuji, got the brunt end of Carrey’s frustrations and had to seek therapy shortly after finishing the film.
Robert Downey Jr.: Iron Man/Iron Man and Avengers Films
For Robert Downey Jr., the emotionally-taxing role of Iron Man was made even more difficult by his superhero suit. In production notes, Downey shared, “I’d been training all these years and thought I was pretty tough, but the first time I put on the Mark 1 suit, I almost had a personality meltdown.”
“I’m not claustrophobic,” he continued, “but after moving around in it for a couple of hours, your spirit is kind of broken, and you’re like, ‘Okay, time to bring in the stunt team.'” Fortunately, Downey didn’t have to wear the suit in later films. Eventually, his iconic costume was generated using CGI (much to his relief).
Arnold Schwarzenegger: Mr. Freeze/Batman & Robin
Arnold Schwarzenegger’s zany portrayal of Mr. Freeze in Batman & Robin was unsettling, especially because of the intense color of his costume. Schwarzenegger’s outfit included a variety of bright blue accessories, highlighted by striking face paint. They even got his teeth to glow blue by placing LEDs in his mouth — not so safe for Schwarzenegger.
Makeup artist Jeff Dawn told The Hollywood Reporter, “When you put it in Arnold’s mouth, Arnold’s saliva would creep into the seams of this thing and attack the batteries. The batteries would immediately start disintegrating and start putting out battery acid into Arnold’s mouth.” Yikes!
Gal Gadot: Wonder Woman/Wonder Woman and Justice League Films
The live-action version of Wonder Woman explored the female hero’s origin story and was brought to life by Gal Gadot. However, her portrayal of the hero was complicated by her costume. She had to wear a corset to fit into the iconic suit. Can you imagine doing action scenes in something so restrictive?
Gadot told Jimmy Kimmel, “I walked into this huge hangar filled with images of me as Wonder Woman…they got me into the fitting room and tried on the costume. And I was so happy and so grateful and thankful…that I didn’t say anything about the fact it was so tight, and I literally could not breathe.”
Elizabeth Banks: Effie Trinket/The Hunger Games Trilogy
Effie Trinket’s outfits in The Hunger Games film trilogy were as bright, outlandish and as strange as the character’s personality. In a fantasy world like Panem, why shouldn’t the costumes be grand? Unfortunately, Effie’s colorful clothing, bright wigs and thick makeup took a toll on actress Elizabeth Banks.
When asked about Effie’s costumes by People, Banks admitted, “They are all torture.” It’s not hard to believe her. Many of the character’s magnificent looks weren’t designed with comfort in mind. However, Banks did provide some input on the appearance of most of Effie’s quirky outfits, so that’s a win.
Val Kilmer: Batman/Batman Forever
Although it might be every kid’s dream, playing Gotham’s superhero in Batman Forever wasn’t so super for actor Val Kilmer. He expressed disdain for the hero’s restrictive suit. Since then, actors Ben Affleck and Christian Bale have also spoken out against their own Batman costumes. Still, no critique was quite as pointed as Kilmer’s.
“I didn’t like it,” Kilmer said during an appearance on Conan. “You need help getting dressed. It takes about 45 minutes to get undressed. You need help going to the bathroom. You can’t hear anymore, ’cause it’s plastic…and then when you call out for help, no one comes.”
Keira Knightley: Elizabeth Swann/Pirates of the Caribbean Films
Keira Knightley stole the show as the witty and charismatic Elizabeth Swann in Pirates of the Caribbean. Although Knightley seems to favor roles in period pieces like Pirates — remember Pride & Prejudice and Anna Karenina? — there’s one thing she despises about these films: corsets.
On Today, Knightley called corsets “…positively awful. They were made…the same way they were made back then. I think probably their corsets would have been tighter…I said, ‘If I’ve got to stand up for 16 hours a day making a film, then can I please be able to breathe a little bit? It would be really helpful.”‘
Michelle Pfeiffer: Catwoman/Batman Returns
When Michelle Pfeiffer was young, she dreamed of playing Catwoman. After Annette Bening dropped out of Tim Burton’s Batman Returns, the role fell into Pfeiffer’s lap, and she gratefully accepted. However, once she got into costume, she struggled to stay enthusiastic. “It was the most uncomfortable costume I’ve ever been in,” she told The Hollywood Reporter.
“They had to powder me down, help me inside and then vacuum-pack the suit,” she continued. “They’d paint it with a silicon-based finish to give it its trademark shine. I had those claws, and I was always catching them in things. The face mask was smashing my face and choking me…we had a lot of bugs to work out.”
Tom Holland: Spider-Man/Spider-Man Films
Tom Holland is everyone’s new favorite Spiderman, but he struggled with costume complications like other superhero stars. When wearing his full Spidey-suit, Holland dehydrated easily and could only drink water through a thin tube. He also struggled to see, joking on Late Night with Seth Meyers, “I can’t even use my phone, and I’m 23. I use my phone a lot.”
During an appearance on Live with Kelly and Ryan, Holland said, “It looks amazing, [but it] feels terrible. But that said, it’s such an honor to wear it. It outweighs any discomfort. But going to the bathroom is a mission. You have to plan 45 minutes in advance.”
Margaret Hamilton: Wicked Witch of the West/The Wizard of Oz
The Wicked Witch of the West is one of the best female villains in cinematic history. Between her terrifying cackle and her quest to murder the protagonist, she’s frightening with or without her iconic costume. Of course, the outfit — with copious amounts of green body paint — only added to the terror of the role.
Unfortunately for Hamilton, her costume ended up terrifying her as well. At one point, the crew used shooting flames to give the witch a grand exit from Munchkinland. During one take, Hamilton’s costume caught on fire — igniting her copper body paint. It took six weeks for her to recover from facial burns.
Johnny Depp: Edward Scissorhands/Edward Scissorhands
Edward Scissorhands’ eclectic leather suit brought Tim Burton’s dark style to the soft-spoken character. Still, the tight costume didn’t come without flaws. Depp kept his complaints about the restrictiveness and temperature of the suit to himself (and refused a cooling agent from the crew). As a result, he struggled to stay conscious during an essential action scene.
During one take, when Edward was racing back to his mansion, Depp finally collapsed from heat exhaustion. “He fell down, and we thought, ‘Well, is he acting? What’s he doing?’ And he’d passed out,” his costar, Dianne Wiest, said. “Never complained, but he’d passed out from the heat of the suit.”
Tom Hiddleston: Loki/Thor and Avengers Films
The Avengers franchise wouldn’t be complete without everyone’s favorite lovable villain, Loki. His suit calls for an excessive amount of leather, body armor and a massive set of horns protruding from his head. The designers for the Avengers flicks tried to replicate the comic book look of Loki down to a tee, making Tom Hiddleston’s costume fairly unbearable to wear.
He told ABC News, “When you’re wearing 30 pounds of leather, then you get very hot, and then all the heat that would normally escape through your head is just kind of encased inside this steel balaclava, and your brain slowly turns to scrambled eggs…so it has its challenges.”
Robin Williams: Popeye/Popeye
Robin Williams didn’t grow massive muscles for Popeye by eating spinach or pumping iron like the classic character. Instead, his burly arms were achieved in pre-CGI days by strapping on latex prosthetics. Unfortunately, this gave Williams the tough-guy look of Popeye, but it also made the actor extremely uncomfortable.
His fake muscles, which could take more than an hour to remove, cut off the circulation in his real arms. Williams told Playboy, “They’d strap on the latex arms. They’d tie me off almost as if I were a junkie…I’d lose all the circulation in my arms, and they’d lock up, so we’d have to stop shooting.”
Carrie Fisher: Princess Leia/Star Wars Films
It’s no secret that Carrie Fisher wasn’t a fan of her itty-bitty golden bikini in Return of the Jedi. Princess Leia was typically suited up in a white robe and double-sided buns — annoying enough — but when Jabba the Hutt captured her, he forced her to wear the skimpy bikini. She despised the outfit.
She told NPR that she was “nearly naked, which is not a style choice for me…It wasn’t my choice. When [director George Lucas] showed me the outfit, I thought he was kidding, and it made me very nervous. I had to sit very straight…I hated wearing that outfit and sitting there rigid straight.”
Margot Robbie: Harley Quinn/Suicide Squad
It’s hard to name a standout performance in a villain-centric film that is quite as captivating as Margot Robbie’s portrayal of Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad. The role called for provocative clothing and accessories. Without her shorts, thin shirts and wild hair, Harley Quinn wouldn’t have the same shock factor as a modestly dressed villain.
When asked how she felt about her costume, Robbie told The New York Times, “As Margot, no, I don’t like wearing that. I’m eating burgers at lunchtime, and then you go do a scene where you’re hosed down and soaking wet in a white T-shirt. It’s so clingy, and you’re self-conscious about it.”
Peter Weller: RoboCop/RoboCop Films
Peter Weller’s iconic RoboCop suit brought a unique stylistic edge to the apocalyptic crime film. However, while the costume looked sharp, it wasn’t a dream for filming. Weller shared, “It was almost a travesty. When the suit first arrived…there were complications in filming, there were complications in design…I couldn’t move in it.”
For weeks, the costume designers worked to adjust the suit to meet Weller’s needs. “They were tearing things out, making adjustments…I got very despondent.” Eventually, the costuming crew decided to leave the RoboCop suit as it was, leaving Weller with a stiff, restrained walk that became the character’s trademark.
Oscar Isaac: Apocalypse/X-Men: Apocalypse
It’s not difficult to see why Oscar Isaac struggled to wear his supervillain suit in X-Men: Apocalypse. His costume weighed a stunning 40 pounds and included a set of massive heels that boosted him up several inches. After the addition of his blue makeup and frightening mask, he sweated buckets in the heavy outfit.
Isaac told Rolling Stone, “I would do some acting and then go to my tent and try to breathe and not freak out that sweat was pouring into my ears, and I couldn’t touch them…It was rough. But the challenge of basically doing Kabuki theater in a film was crazy.”
Malin Akerman: Silk Spectre/Watchmen
While the Silk Spectre suit in Watchmen was a favorite among the film’s fans, Akerman couldn’t have hated the costume more. “It was so uncomfortable,” she shared at an NYC BUILD Series event. “It’s latex. It’s like putting a condom over your whole body.”
“It’s tight…They wanted to cinch my waist in 3 inches smaller than what it actually is,” she continued. Some days, she had to scarf down lunch with a corset on. “People asked me if I kept the costume,” she said. “You couldn’t pay me enough money to keep that costume. You can see it in the movies.”
Sebastian Stan: Winter Soldier/Captain America and Avengers Films
The Winter Soldier’s costume may not seem complex, but Sebastian Stan hated the mask that accompanied the suit. “The mask was really tough at times…we were fighting out in the June or July sun, and we were just doing those sequences, I would just have to literally rip it off my face and just breathe,” he told Moviefone.
“The whole process of putting that thing on was about 30 to 40 minutes. Taking it off is 30 to 40 minutes…And then, of course, there were moments where it was like, ‘Oh my God, please, get me out of this. I think I’m going to fall over. I know I’m going to pass out today.'”
Brie Larson: Captain Marvel/Captain Marvel and Avengers Films
In her captivating Captain Marvel performance, Brie Larson wore the Captain Marvel super suit like she was born for it. However, despite her confident appearance, the costume was a hassle to wear. Larson told Games Radar, “It’s not comfortable. It takes two people to get me into it, and it’s a 30-minute process to put it on.”
“It makes going to the bathroom a bit of a thing – it’s a team of five people just for me to go to the bathroom. That was the part that, when the movie was done, I was the most excited about. I was like, ‘I can go to the bathroom by myself! I don’t need to make an announcement!'”
Christian Bale: Batman/The Dark Knight Films
Christian Bale starred in a total of three Batman films throughout the evolution of the hero franchise. Although he eventually warmed up to his super suit, one piece of his costume gave the mega-star trouble: his cowl. At times, the conjoined mask-neck piece made it difficult for him to breathe.
“When it gets cold the cowl is extremely tight,” Bale shared with Huffington Post. “And it gets better the warmer I get it; it becomes more flexible. But after a couple of takes, I was trying to breathe properly in my nose. I was starting to see stars, and I said, ‘I have to take this off.'”
Chadwick Boseman: Black Panther/Black Panther and Avengers Films
If there’s one thing the MCU cast can agree on, it’s that Chadwick Boseman’s Black Panther costume was the worst to wear. The all-black outfit overheated super easily, and the tight face mask made it hard to breathe. The first time Boseman wore the suit, he could barely inhale.
“It was suffocating,” Boseman told Variety. “Literally, it closed off every possibility of air getting to you. I was in it, put the mask on. I said, ‘Hey, you gotta get me out of this!’…I think it begins to feel like skin after a while, but it takes time to get to that place.”
John Hurt: John Merrick/The Elephant Man
When John Hurt signed on for The Elephant Man, he had no idea what a drag the deformed leading character’s costume would be. Hurt told the LA Times, “It never occurred to me it would take eight hours for them to apply the full thing — virtually a working day in itself. There were 16 different pieces to that mask.”
When they were finished, Hurt could hardly see, hear or speak. “With all that makeup on, I couldn’t be sure what I was doing,” he shared with the Times. “At one point I became very depressed and felt that nothing I was doing was coming through on screen.”
Julia Roberts: The Queen/Mirror Mirror
Mirror, mirror, on the wall, is this the worst costume of them all? In the Snow White-based comedic fantasy Mirror Mirror, Julia Roberts played the role of the Evil Queen. She wore a comically oversized dress throughout the film, and it had a variety of issues, including making it impossible to fit through a single doorway.
During an appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Roberts shared, “I had a tent on the stage that I went in to dress because that dress doesn’t go into any modern doorway, and that dress weighed, I think, 60 pounds…I actually pulled a thigh muscle trying to chastise [my co-star], turning really quickly.”
Anne Hathaway: Catwoman/The Dark Knight Rises
When Anne Hathaway took on the coveted role of Catwoman in The Dark Knight Rises, she was just as unprepared to wear the uncomfortable outfit as Michelle Pfeiffer. The Catwoman costume was designed to be skin-tight and restrictive. Hathaway had to lose weight to move comfortably in the suit, and it had a major impact on her mental health.
“[The suit] was a psychological terrorist,” she told Allure. “The suit, thoughts of my suit, changing my life so I would fit into that suit…it dominated my year. I didn’t understand how you could be thin and strong. I went into the gym for 10 months and didn’t come out.”
Scarlett Johansson: Black Widow/Avengers Films
How bad could a simple black jumpsuit possibly be? Apparently, on the set of an Avengers film, it’s absolutely abhorrent. When playing Black Widow, Scarlett Johansson had to wear a tight black suit with a few modest accessories. The costume didn’t seem too over-the-top, but it was hot, painful and irritating to wear.
She told USA Today, “The material is like a torture chamber. I literally had to peel it off.” On an episode of Nightline, she shared that the costume “was so hot, I would wring out my socks at the end of the day.” Action sequences in the sweaty outfit made her so hot that she hallucinated. Yikes.
Buddy Ebsen: Tin Man/The Wizard of Oz
Getting into costume for The Wizard of Oz wasn’t a stroll down the yellow brick road for most characters. You might think the Wicked Witch of the West was the worst costuming blunder for the classic flick, but Buddy Ebsen’s costume fail offers some real competition. The aluminum in the Tin Man’s original makeup was nearly fatal to him during filming.
Ebsen dropped out of the film after experiencing an allergic reaction to the aluminum makeup. In his autobiography, The Other Side of Oz, he said, “The cramps in my arms advanced…to the muscles that controlled my breathing. If this continued, I wouldn’t even be able to take a breath. I was sure I was dying.”
Rory McCann: The Hound/Game of Thrones
At 6 feet, 6 inches tall, McCann towered over his Game of Thrones costars as The Hound. While his size, signature scowl and brute strength in battle made him intimidating, the burn scars over half of his face elevated The Hound’s sinister appearance.
His deformed features left a mark on viewers every time he appeared on screen, but it came at a price for McCann. Once the show wrapped, McCann revealed he won’t miss filming because he had to shave his beard unevenly for three quarters of every year he filmed.
Gwyneth Paltrow: Rosemary/Shallow Hal
The Farrelly brothers’ 2001 film Shallow Hal was supposed to be an empowering movie about falling for someone’s inner beauty instead of their physical appearance. Then its pampered and problematic star Gwyneth Paltrow started the press tour for the film and expressed some questionable thoughts on her role as the plus-sized Rosemary.
When she was asked about wearing a “fat suit” for the role, Paltrow expressed her discomfort walking around in it. “It was horrible,” she revealed in an interview. In another, she claimed she “felt humiliated because people were really dismissive.” Poor Gwyneth.
Peter Mayhew: Chewbacca/Star Wars Films
The late Peter Mayhew portrayed the lovable giant Chewbacca in the Star Wars film series. Before Baby Yoda took the world by storm, Chewbacca was the most cuddly creature in George Lucas’ series. As cuddly as Chewbacca looks, dressing as Han Solo’s furry friend was far from enjoyable for Mayhew.
For the original trilogy, the Chewbacca costume was made of a combination of real yak and rabbit hair knitted into a base of mohair. It got really smelly when it got wet, which was all the time since Mayhew would frequently sweat in the very hairy costume.
John Matuszak: Sloth/The Goonies
The Goonies is one of the most iconic films from the 1980s. The little gang of adventure-seeking children found themselves on a wild treasure hunt, encountering a slew of peculiar characters along the way. Of course, the most notable “villain” was the misunderstood Sloth.
The late John Matuszak gave the gargantuan softy an endearing touch, which says a lot about his acting skills as it took 5 hours a day in the makeup chair to get ready. Imagine sitting in a makeup chair for that long every morning and then standing around a bunch of child actors all day.
Orlando Bloom: Legolas/The Lord of the Rings Trilogy
Orlando Bloom played the dreamy elf Legolas in Peter Jackson’s celebrated Lord of the Rings film series. While it may seem to the viewer like his costume only involved a long, blonde wig and ear prosthetics, the costume actually caused some major damage to the actor.
Bloom had to wear blue-colored contact lenses over his natural brown eyes, but they caused serious damage to his eyes. He could only wear them for a short period of time during shooting, so you’ll notice his eyes are different colors throughout the movies.